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May 1, 2020
Presiding officers, parliamentarians, and clerks gather for an online meeting on virtual parliamentary sittings during the COVID-19 pandemic

On Friday, May 1, 2020, ParlAmericas and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) held an online meeting on virtual parliamentary sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic for presiding officers, parliamentarians, and clerks of English-speaking parliaments in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Parliamentary officials from 17 parliaments in the region attended the meeting virtually. The expert panelists—the Honourable Juan Watterson, Speaker of the House of Keys of Tynwald, Parliament of the Isle of Man; Luiz Fernando Bandeira de Mello, Secretary General of the Board of the Senate of Brazil; and Matthew Hamlyn, Strategic Director of the Chamber Business Team of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom—shared valuable insights into the experiences, as well as technical and political challenges, of implementing virtual sittings and committee meetings in their respective legislatures.

The panelists’ presentations were followed by a discussion period facilitated by the meeting Chair, Senator Ranard Henfield (The Bahamas), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network for the Caribbean, who emphasized that “parliamentary representation is an essential service and it must go on—especially when our people are dealing with a health and economic crisis.”

The Honourable Brigid Annisette-George, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Trinidad and Tobago, ParlAmericas Board Member and CPA International Executive Committee Member, delivered closing remarks, thanking the panelists and participants for a “great dialogue on the current issues facing our legislatures. The spaces for collaboration provided by ParlAmericas and the CPA are particularly valuable in these difficult times to support democracy and good governance throughout this hemisphere and beyond.”

For further information on the work of ParlAmericas, visit and follow @ParlAmericas on social media. For more information on the CPA, visit and follow @CPA_Secretariat on Twitter.

The CPA has also launched a toolkit for parliaments on delivering parliamentary democracy during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic—visit to download a copy.